Cyberpunk 2077 System Requirements: Don't Trust Projekt Red

2020-09-23

CD Projekt Red has announced the official Cyberpunk 2077 system requirements, with a planned launch on November 19. Let's just be frank: They're bunk. Not that the minimum and recommended PCs won't be able to run the game, but the way the game will look on those PCs? [Waves Obi-wan hand] "These aren't the graphics settings you're looking for." It would be like a netrunner trying to hack one of the megacorps using a standard cyberdeck. Not happening! So what sort of PC hardware will you need to run the game in all its glory? Here's what you need to know about the Cyberpunk 2077 system requirements.

We know that , which means if you want the full fidelity experience, you'll want one of the — and by that we mean you'll want at least a GeForce RTX GPU.

, though Windows 7 is supported as DX12 has been ported to it. If you have the money and some luck, the new will, of course, more than suffice. Hopefully supply will catch up to demand in the next few months and the cards will become more available. Alternatively, wait for the or .

We have some strong opinions about the official Cyberpunk 2077 system requirements. We'll start with the official specs, discuss why we think they're not really what you want, and move on to our own recommendations. So let's jack into the matrix, put on a Cyberpunk 2077 Brain Dance, and get ready for the year's most anticipated game.

CD Projekt Red Cyberpunk 2077 Minimum PC

CD Projekt Red detailed its official minimum and recommended specs in Night City Wire episode 3. (Skip to about 20:30 if you only want the specs). Let's start with the minimum specs first:

  • Core i5-3570K or FX-8310
  • GTX 780 3GB or RX 470 4GB
  • 8GB RAM
  • 70GB storage
  • Windows 7 or Windows 10 64-bit

So, that's your clunker standard cyberdeck that's barely enough to get you started as a netrunner. It has a CPU from 2012, a GPU from 2013 (Nvidia) or 2016 (AMD), a modest amount of memory, and a 64-bit version of Windows. Cyberpunk 2077 requires DirectX 12 (DX12), which was backported to Windows 7 but not Windows 8/8.1.

What sort of experience will this deck get you? CDPR doesn't say, so it might be 720p minimum quality at 30 fps, or it might be 1080p low quality at 60 fps. If we were to hazard a guess, it's closer to the former than the latter.

  • Core i7-4790 or Ryzen 3 3200G
  • GTX 1060 6GB or R9 Fury
  • 12GB RAM
  • 70GB SSD storage
  • Windows 10 64-bit

The step up to CDPR's recommended hardware is still pretty tame. The GPUs are moderately faster — according to our , Nvidia's 1060 6GB is about 30% faster than the GTX 780; meanwhile, AMD's R9 Fury X is about 30% faster than the RX 570 4GB, so perhaps 35-40% faster than the RX 470. (Note that the R9 Fury X is also about 25% faster than the GTX 1060 6GB.) For newer GPUs, both the GTX 1650 Super and RX 5500 XT provide similar performance.

On the CPU side, things are a bit weird. The Core i7-4790 is similar to the i7-4770K, and both should be faster than the Ryzen 3 3200G. A Ryzen 5 1400 would have been a more sensible minimum CPU, so it feels a bit like CDPR is just pulling models out of a hat. Ryzen 3 3200G is limited to an x8 PCIe bus link, plus it's a 4-core/4-thread CPU. It's not going to beat a Core i7 Haswell or Devil's Canyon in gaming performance, in other words.

But the biggest problem, once again, is that we have no idea what sort of settings the recommended PC hardware targets. 1080p medium at 30 fps? Probably. More likely, it will run at close to 45 fps on average, so it ought to keep minimums above 30 fps. If correct, that's a pretty low bar for a gaming PC. More critically, there's no chance the recommended PC will do even minor ray tracing effects, never mind all the extras that are going to be available in Cyberpunk 2077. At least the SSD recommendation is sound.

For the record, CDPR's last game, The Witcher 3, actually breaks 60 fps on a GTX 1060 and R9 Fury at maximum quality. But five years later, with all the detail being thrown into Night City? We just don't buy that the game engine will be so optimized that 60 fps at medium quality will be achievable without stepping up to more recent CPUs and GPUs. Especially not at 1440p or 4K, with ray tracing and DLSS enabled.

(Image credit: Nvidia)

We're taking an educated guess here, but if you want to play at 1440p and maybe even 4K, using ray tracing effects, a beefier PC is necessary. Actually, an RTX GPU is required as a bare minimum for ray tracing and DLSS right now, though AMD's Big Navi will at least take care of the ray tracing side of the equation by November (we hope).

Here's our high-end recommendation for a PC that should max out settings and quality at 1440p. Perhaps with DLSS, even 4K will be viable, but we'll have to wait and see when Cyberpunk 2077 comes out.

TOTAL PRICE: $1,816

Obviously, that's a lot of money for a gaming PC, but there's a good chance you won't need to upgrade everything just to play Cyberpunk 2077 at max settings. Mostly, getting the GeForce RTX 3080 is your best bet at being able to handle anything Night City might throw at you. The good news is that you have two months to try and buy one, and the RT 3070 will be coming at $500 on October 15 (and will sell out just as fast as the RTX 3080, almost certainly). Past experience suggests the 3080 will be more readily available by November, though.

In terms of performance, while we don't know exactly how demanding Cyberpunk 2077 will be, having the fastest current GPU (that doesn't cost over $1,000) should suffice. RTX 2060 Super and above ought to be able to manage 1080p at high settings as well, if you already have one of those, with the 2080 Super pushing into 1440p territory. DLSS 2.0 is going to be a critical factor in enabling all of the ray tracing effects without tanking performance, though, based on what we've seen from Control and the Fortnite RTX update.

(Image credit: Nvidia)

Cyberpunk 2077 'Minimum' Ray Tracing Hardware 

If you're more interested in the minimum requirements to get Cyberpunk 2077 running, still with ray tracing support, here's a lesser build. It's still moderately expensive, and we can't guarantee high framerates with all the graphics settings turned up. Still, it's substantially more powerful than CDPR's recommended PC and should deliver a good gaming experience.

TOTAL PRICE: $857

That's less than half the total cost, but it's also about half the performance. Nvidia hasn't announced the RTX 3060 yet, but that should provide a big boost to the entry-level RTX performance when it arrives. It's also half the memory and half the storage capacity — you might want to add a secondary drive, or just for $35 more.

This is the type of build we expect to be able to run Cyberpunk 2077 at 1080p and high settings, with ray tracing and DLSS, while still getting close to 60 fps. However, that's only a guesstimate as we don't actually know how demanding the game will be.

One thing to keep in mind is that while Cyberpunk 2077 will be launching on PC and the next-generation and consoles, it will also be available on current-gen consoles. The hardware in the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One is pretty decrepit by today's standards, so any modest PC should be fine if you just want to run the game. It might be at 30 fps, but it should still be playable. That's basically what CDPR seems to be aiming for.

"Hop on in and we can visit the ripperdoc — he'll fix your old GPU right up!"  (Image credit: Cyberpunk 2077)

Cyberpunk 2077 Graphics Card Considerations 

You don't need to buy an entire PC either, naturally. If you already have a decent PC, the main consideration for running Cyberpunk 2077 is your graphics card. You can see how performance stacks up between the various options in our full , but we've selected the penultimate consumer GPU right now. The might be a bit faster, but at more than double the price, we're not going to be heavily recommending that. The RTX 3080 is a beast on its own, pummeling the last-gen RTX 2080 Ti by over 30% on average at 4K, or sometimes more with ray tracing and DLSS games.

We really recommend an , or maybe an . Okay, we don't actually know the final name of the AMD card, but both AMD and Nvidia have new GPUs launching, most likely before the Cyberpunk 2077 release date. Considering Nvidia has been working with CDPR to get ray tracing effects incorporated into Cyberpunk 2077 for at least the past year, an Nvidia GPU is probably the safer bet.

We'll have to wait for the actual GPUs to see how they stack up. Still, DLSS 2.0 at least will require an Nvidia GPU, so unless AMD can come out with an easy to implement alternative, plan on stepping down your resolution target a notch or two relative to Nvidia GPUs. Based on the various rendering features planned for Cyberpunk 2077, DLSS is going to be very useful.

What features are we referring to? Mostly ray tracing, where Cyberpunk 2077 looks to match and even exceed Control when it comes to using various rendering techniques. Here's the rundown of what CDPR currently has planned, courtesy of :  

  • Ray-traced ambient occlusion - Ambient occlusion is a shading and rendering technique used to calculate how exposed each point in a scene is to ambient lighting. The result is a diffuse shading effect that darkens enclosed and sheltered areas and enhances the rendered image's overall tone. In Cyberpunk 2077, ray-traced ambient occlusion additionally can be used with local lights to approximate local shadowing effects where shadows are missing.
  • Ray-traced diffuse illumination - This technique is used to capture sky radiance as well as emissive lighting from various surfaces, which is difficult to achieve with traditional rendering techniques.
  • Ray-traced reflections - In Cyberpunk 2077, ray-traced reflections are used on all surfaces and can trace ranges for up to several kilometers. They are present on both opaque and transparent objects to simulate the way light reflects from glossy and metal surfaces by tracing a single bounce of reflection rays against the scene. This includes smooth natural mirrors like window glass, but also rougher surfaces like brushed metal. Unlike screen space techniques which can only reflect what’s on screen, ray-traced reflections incorporate the entire scene around the character, and can accurately represent objects outside the camera view or facing away from the camera.
  • Ray-traced shadows - Cyberpunk 2077 preview supports directional shadows from the sun and the moon. These shadows aim to be physically accurate and even account for light scattering from clouds. Shadows may be enhanced in the final release to support other types of light sources where it is needed.

If that's all a bit complicated, let me sum up: At maximum quality settings, you can expect Cyberpunk 2077 to push ray tracing hardware to the limit. Many previous games have only used one of those techniques: RT shadows are in Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare; RT reflections are used in Battlefield V, Control, and Wolfenstein Youngblood; and RT AO and diffuse lighting are used in Metro Exodus. Combine all of those in one game, and we expect framerates to plummet.

DLSS 2.0 will help offset that, but perhaps more important than having a GPU that can do ray tracing effects will be having a second-gen ray tracing GPU. Which brings us back to the RTX 3080 and Ampere, or AMD's Big Navi — technically, AMD's hardware will be its first generation of ray tracing, but maybe AMD learned a thing or two from Nvidia's initial RTX 20-series launch.

The RTX 3080 is nearly double the performance of the RTX 2080, and roughly twice the ray tracing performance of Turing, thanks to improvements in the architecture. We've seen Control cut performance in half with ray tracing enabled, and the same goes for Fortnite RTX, the Bright Memory Infinite benchmark, and the Boundary benchmark. All of those implement four or five ray tracing effects, and even with DLSS upscaling 1080p to 4K, maintaining 60 fps is difficult.

If you're not set on spending $700 or more on an RTX 3080, though, we strongly suggest waiting to see how RX 6900 XT (and maybe other RX 6000 cards) and RTX 3070 perform before buying a new graphics card.

"Hey there, I've got some hot new CPU tech I'd like to sell you…"  (Image credit: Cyberpunch 2077)

Cyberpunk 2077 CPU Considerations 

It's not just GPUs that could see new models by the time Cyberpunk 2077 rolls out the door. Both AMD and Intel are working on new processors, AMD with and Intel with , perhaps arriving before 2021. Intel also has Tiger Lake, but that's another story as it's confined to laptop use and doesn't have ray tracing capabilities in its integrated graphics. Zen 3 and Rocket Lake, though, could be a nice boost.

AMD's Zen 2 architecture brought significant performance improvements to Ryzen 3000 CPUs and also boosted core counts. Zen 3 promises a unified L3 cache that could further reduce memory latencies and improve performance. It might not make it out before Cyberpunk 2077 hits the shelves, but AMD says Zen 3 is still on track to launch in 2020. It will also work in existing AMD socket AM4 motherboards after a BIOS update, though you may not get all the features (like PCIe Gen4) if you're not using at least an X570 or B550 board.

Intel's Rocket Lake will be the first post-Skylake architecture to hit desktops — , , the , and are all derivatives, just with more cores in the case of the last three and slightly improved UHD 630 integrated graphics (vs. Skylake's UHD 530). How much will Rocket Lake improve Intel CPU performance? That's not clear, and we don't know core counts either (8-core sounds like the max), but it should be better than Comet Lake and also support PCIe Gen4. It will also work in existing Z490 motherboards, though we'll probably get new Z590 (or whatever) boards for the Rocket Lake launch, just because.

Once again, the sage advice is to wait for these launches before taking the plunge on new hardware. Games also tend to be more forgiving of older CPUs than of previous-gen GPUs, so even a CPU that's several generations old should still be okay. As far as minimum CPU requirements go, Cyberpunk 2077 will probably still run okay even on a second-gen Core i5, FX-series AMD, or similar. Just don't plan on a smooth 60 fps or more if you're sporting an old CPU. 

(Image credit: Nvidia)

Cyberpunk 2077 System Requirements, Closing Thoughts 

The main hurdle for any PC to run Cyberpunk 2077 is undoubtedly going to be the graphics card. If you're willing to run at minimum quality and a lower resolution, or maybe enable resolution scaling, and if you're okay with 30 fps, it will probably run just fine on whatever hardware your current gaming PC has. That's assuming you have a GTX 970 or R9 390 or better GPU. You might even be able to go to older / slower hardware and still run the game, but no guarantees — and none of the fancy graphics effects. Cyberpunk 2077 will be available on current generation PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles as well, so we know the minimum requirements can't be much worse than other recent games.

But if you want to get the most out of Cyberpunk 2077, judging by what we've seen and the promised graphics features, you'll want at least a 6-core CPU to hit a consistent 60 fps or more in the crowds of Night City, and perhaps even that won't be sufficient. CDPR has been doing Cyberpunk 2077 demos for over a year now, and those demos weren't running on Ampere. By all accounts, the game ran decently, though ray tracing effects may not have been enabled.

We're not suggesting that you run out and buy a new PC or upgrade your existing PC in advance of the game launch. Quite the opposite, as additional new GPUs and CPUs are right around the corner. And in November (assuming the game hits this release date), there will be other new hardware 'coming soon,' so you also want to avoid getting caught up in the perpetual waiting game.

If you're already running an Nvidia RTX graphics card, you should definitely sit back and wait. If not, unless there are some other games that you can't currently play at the performance levels you'd like, waiting is still the best advice. But come November, don't be surprised if you find yourself pining for new hardware to make the most of Cyberpunk 2077's detailed world.